Michael Latz is a trained agronomist, former student of René Dumont (the first presidential election candidate to discuss environmentalism) and has been the Mayor of Correns, France’s first organic village, for 25 years. He has worked as both an entrepreneur and winemaker, always in Provence, and specifically Provence Verte.
Why the switch to organic?
I ran a phytosanitary company back in the 1990s, and this was when I realised that the world was heading towards a disastrous future. I’m a humanist winemaker, so when I became the Mayor of Correns, I suggested that we become France’s first organic winemaking village. To my immense surprise, every single winemaker made the switch, mostly so they could continue with small-scale production.
Is winemaking the only organic farming in Correns?
Everyone rapidly switched over to organic production: from a goatherd (in the communal forest), to a market gardener, a bee-keeper, growers of medicinal herbs, a chicken farmer/egg producer, and more. The village followed suit, with sustainable buildings, renewable energy and a school canteen.
I personally think that learning to read and write is as important as eating well. How our children will feed themselves in the years to come will decide the future of the planet, so it’s important that they learn about production, consumption and waste.
How would you assess the switch to organic production?
Ecotourism and wine tourism have grown, with the opening of places to stay and the launch of activities that have brought in extra income. My vendors and I spend a lot of time teaching visitors about organic farming, because they are very curious.
Local producers have also found marketing opportunities through short supply chains, but one of the most important achievements has been stemming the exodus of young people from the village. The average age of those on the cooperative’s board of directors is 35-40, compared to 55 in the rest of the department, and there are still lots of new arrivals. Our village is being revitalised and is growing (restaurants, events, concerts, etc.).
I encourage tourists to visit our producers and find out how organic production is creating new techniques and technologies.
Domaine des Aspras
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